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The Bisaya, also known by the Spanish name Cebuano, are the biggest ethnic group in the Philippines. Without the help of legislation, their language is the lingua franca of half the country, being spoken in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Language: Bisaya
Ancestral Domain: Central Visayas Region
Principal City: Cebu
Native God: Kaptan and Magwayen
Religious Ritual: Sinulog





Bisaya Ancestral Territory
Ancestral territory of the Bisaya, covering the Central Visayas Region


Cebu, the Bisaya's beloved city, was the country's first capital. The Bisaya vied with the Tagalog to make Bisaya the national language, and resisted implementation of the Filipino language upon losing the battle. Until now, there's this unique and almost separate culture running in Central Visayas, and the Cebuano allude to their province as the Republic of Cebu.


The Bisaya is a race that is dominant without being brutal. If the Tagalog does it by intricate diplomacy, the Bisaya are these lively, very effervescent folk who'd win you over with their humor and laughter. They dance their progress out of the Visayas, and sing their horses on to Mindanao. On an evening filled with fireflies they'd drink wine with you on a rickety table, and next thing you know they're all over your land.

Kaptan and Magwayen
The Heaven and the Abyss are the Bisaya’s supreme gods


Kaptan, the Heaven, is the supreme god of the Bisaya. Magwayen, the Abyss, is the supreme goddess. In Visayan mythology, the Heaven and the Abyss are coequal. In the beginning there were only the heaven and the abyss; whereas in the Christian story a god in man’s image and likeness came in to create the earth, no such thing happened in Visayan mythology. The heaven and the abyss themselves were alive. They accidentally created the Philippines when, quarrelling with each other, the Heaven hurled islands over the face of Abyss.

Lapu-lapu, the first Filipino hero, a Bisaya

Prominent Member

The first Filipino hero, Lapu-lapu, is a Bisaya. He was the first to resist Spanish colonization. Ferdinand Magellan, the first man to have circumnavigated the world and discovered the Philippines, fell in Lapu-lapu’s hands as the latter’s army fended off an attack from the newly arrived Spanish force.


Sinulog is the Bisaya’s sacred dance. It is originally a fertility dance, and is still performed as such by indigenous Visayan peoples in the uplands of Panay Island.


Baybayin Bisaya
The native alphabet of the Bisaya (image by Akopito Ardinez)


The Bisaya have their own style of Baybayin, the native alphabet of the Philippines. The script in the image to the left reads “Akoopitoo.”

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